Sony is having quite a year. From TVs to AV receivers, its latest ranges have proved more than a match for the competition, with plenty of plaudits and Hot Buy rosettes picked up along the way.
DVD/HDD recorders have proved a rich picking ground for the company, too, so we had high hopes for the RDR-HXD890 machine from the off.
As we always expect from Sony, the setup and interface on this player is simple to follow and fast to get moving. There are two separate connections for the analogue and digital tuners, so you'll need to use the supplied aerial cables to loop through the inputs to send your aerial signal to both tuners.
The best connection for your TV is via HDMI, with the HXD890 capable of upscaling and sending 1080p video content.
There's a 160GB hard disk drive – so not the largest available – but there's still room for hours and hours of Mad Men.
If you want to save programmes to disc, then this Sony is compatible with DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs, and will play (but not record to) dual-layer +R and -R discs as well as DVD-RAM. MP3, JPEG and DivX files can all be played without fuss, too and there’s a USB 2.0 input.
Down to business and the digital TV picture is the main one we're interested in, and very nice it is, too.
Images are utterly clean of noise and instability, while edges of objects are razor sharp. Watching the rolling news channels doesn't throw up any issues with motion, and overall colours are vivid yet natural, with deep blacks.
Sony thoughtfully makes it clear which recording level you're using as you hit the button, displaying the mode at the bottom of the screen.
Review continues after the break...
Recording quality is excellent
The top three quality recording modes are all excellent, offering no discernable drop in audio or video quality, giving you 36 hours of recording in the highest HQ mode.
Switch to DVD playback and the Sony is again impressive. The image is clean and natural, with good contrast levels, bright colours and solid, dark blacks. Even the sound is souped up, delivering when the content requires, while proving clear and substantial with TV sound.
From ease of use, features and functions, to tuner quality, recording and DVD playback, this Sony has us merrily ticking all the necessary boxes. It’s going to be a tough PVR to beat.